It has been more than sixty years since my discharge in August of 1948. It is so difficult to recall things that took place such a long time ago, and it is even harder because I can not easily obtain the materials regardless of my effort to aim at accuracy.
There have been many records and testimonials published by the formerly interned in the Soviet Union and I have read many of them. However, our experiences are all different depending on the gulag we were taken to. It was because the Soviet’s methods of administration and the way the gulag was set up was not all the same. Therefore, it is my belief that someone’s experience does not really represent others. Regarding my own record, it should be considered as the record of what one commissioned paymaster experienced in the gulag in Yelabuga in Russia which wasclose to Europe.
Since 1980, I have been serving as a president of the the Central Association of Council that was formed to enhance the request of compensation for all Japanese formerly interned in the Soviet Union and also serving as a president of the Japan Association of Forced Internees.
There were two associations of the formerly interned in the Soviet Union. The late Rokuto Saito was the president of “Council of Compensation for All Japan Formerly Interned” and “Sappokukai” run by Teigo Kusachi. The former association is a group that made the resolution of appreciation for the president of the Soviet Union. They demanded the compensation of the internment to the Japanese government, wanted trials, actually filed the claim and made the final appeal to the highest court, but they lost in their court case.
It is not good that the formerly interned were split into two groups when we look at it objectively. Therefore, I requested the merging of the two. I made a suggestion that it would be the best to elect a third person to become a new president, after each president of both groups steps down. However, Mr. Saito rejected the idea, and this effort did not come true. I understand he could not back off because it was his livelihood, and he could not afford losing his job. Sappokukai was a group of people who were convicted by the Soviet Union.
Our association has been demanding the apology and the allocation of appropriate compensation for the wages that the formerly interned deservefrom the Soviet government for not only their sudden invasion into Manchuko, North Korea, Sakhalin and Kurile Islands after arbitrary discarding the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact against the Potsdam Declaration, and also for causing the death of 10% of the military personnel, civilian in military employment, and even a part of civilians who were taken to forced labor deep in Siberia.
Simultaneously, we have also been demanding the Japanese government to engage in the act of comforting of the people who were died during this time.
Our efforts received strong support centering around the association of the Diet members of Liberal Democratic Party, and it resulted in the monetary reward and gifts for their services
Many actions are in our plans including the construction of the central monument of consoling the spirits of the dead. Now that the average age of the remaining formerly interned is already above eighty years old, I would like to see the completion of the projects as soon as possible.
In this writing, I wrote an outlook of the process of how our association has worked on this matter.